Blue money artwork
'Uns Trocados' 2010, by Rodrigo Torres A Gentil Carioca gallery Collage of currency notes
(Image credit: TBC)

This year marked the 20th year of Buenos Aires' ArteBA, charmingly pronounced 'art-e-ba', South America's largest art fair. The five-day event is known for drawing quite a crowd and this year's long entry lines was no surprise for the local industry circles. Porteños are generally known for their keen interest in art and Argentina's most ardent collectors are famous for their incredible passion and desire to build personal relationships with artists and gallerists - a hyper-personal approach that only happens in a smaller market like Argentina.

But while ArteBA has become a serious regional fair of particular local importance, Porteño attendees are always eager for more. As a result the ArteBA team tapped self-described art projects producer Abaseh Mirvali, the former executive director of Mexico's Jumex Foundation and Collection to curate a special section of the show intended to help broaden it's reach.

Mirvali assembled a group of major international galleries for the section, called U-Turn - which turned out to be its hands-down highlight. With the help of sponsor Mercedes Benz, and generous local patrons and personal friends too many to name, Mirvali realized her vision, which she says was broadly based on the concept of 'built structures and modern architecture'. She curated U-Turn down to the individual pieces of art, and her clean, sophisticated sensibility and modernist élan certainly showed through.

International galleries are not foreign to ArteBA, but U-Turn's mix was conspicuously unique for its major European names, like Andersen's Contemporary of Copenhagen and Berlin's Johann König Gallery – both first timers, like all of the section's participants. Top galleries from other, more regional markets were also present. São Paulo's Mendes Wood and A Gentil Carioca from Rio de Janeiro were standouts, showing among other pieces, an elegantly simple collection of watercolors on graph paper by Daniel Steegmann and incredible collages crafted from of out-of-circulation international currency by Rodrigo Torres, respectively. And Casas Riegner Gallery of Bogotá and Mexico City's Proyectos Monclova, who already had a loyal followings among collectors here did not disappoint with their booths. Everything from performance art to sculpture to photography was represented. In total there were 11 galleries lining what was a large circular walkway and the lounge area at its center - a literal nod to the section's moniker.

'I was also hopeful that some of the local artists would find their way into these galleries, which they would not have access to without U-Turn, and Berlin's PSM signed a young Argentine artist called Eduardo Baswaldo, which is great,' says Mirvali.

ArteBA seems to be headed in the right direction. Given U-Turn's unqualified success, questions about its future were prevalent on the hall floor in the show's waning days, and while there were no firm answers, the collection's inaugural galleries were universally interested in returning to the fair – most notably those from Europe, but the new regional names were also won over. 'We really participated because of our belief in Abaseh, and it worked out really well. We did well, got to know the local collectors much better and the energy at the fair was really great, said Felipe Dmab of Mendes Wood. And Buenos Aires is an incredible city, so we look forward to next year. Why not, right?'

Colourful money artwork

'Uns Trocados' 2010, by Rodrigo Torres
A Gentil Carioca gallery

Collage of currency notes

(Image credit: TBC)

Picasso poster

'Closing Argument' 2010, by Nina Beier
Proyectos Monclova Gallery

(Image credit: TBC)

Colour block lights

'RGB/CMY' 2011, by Karina Peisajovich
Vasari Gallery

Projection of coloured light

(Image credit: TBC)

Man in wallpapered room

'Vanishing Point' 2005, by Jorge Macchi
Ruth Benzacar Gallery


(Image credit: TBC)

Open book with black ink

'Lecciones' 2007, by Johanna Calle
Casas Riegner Gallery

Pencil and ink on paper

(Image credit: TBC)

Artwork on grid paper

'Lichtzwant' 2010, by Daniel Steegmann
Mendes Wood Gallery

Watercolour on paper

(Image credit: TBC)

White artwork

Untitled 2010, by Daniel Lergon
Anderson's Contemporary gallery

Varnish on fabric

(Image credit: TBC)

Painting of hanging towels

'Shaker Peg Painting VII' 2010, by Dan Rees
Tanya Leighton Gallery

(Image credit: TBC)

Man sat on chair in white room

'Invention of Time Passed' performance 2010, Anca Munteanu
PSM Gallery

(Image credit: TBC)

Black tree-like sculpture

'Space Elevator / Spark 460' 2010, by Tomas Saraceno

Cord of black polyester, plastic cable ties, metallic structure

(Image credit: TBC)

Gold block

'Untitled' by Alicja Kwade
Johann Konig Gallery

Bronze mould of coal with gold leaf

(Image credit: TBC)

Tall buildings & jellyfish

'Oligatega' 2010, by Esporas en Puerto Madero
Foster Catena Galeria

Digital image

(Image credit: TBC)

Face carved on dark wood

'Grand Téte' 2011, by Vicente Grondona
Alberto Sendrós

Carved carbon sculpture

(Image credit: TBC)

Monochrome drawing

'No Title' 2011, by Nicolás Robbio
Galeria Vermelho

Pencil on paper

(Image credit: TBC)

Artwork of Los Angeles Diner

'Los Angeles' 2010, by Miguel Rothschild
Ruth Benzacar Galería de arte

C-print on perforated paper

(Image credit: TBC)

Monochrome artwork

'Un Paisaje Posible' 2011, by Mauro Giaconi
Arróniz Arte Contemporáneo

Pencil on paper

(Image credit: TBC)

White paper artwork

'Más Pan 2' 2011, by Mateo Lopez
Galeria Casas Riegner

Ink and pencil on paper

(Image credit: TBC)

Pencil drawings on paper

'Ciudad Solar' 2011, by Mateo Lopez
Galeria Casas Riegner

Typography on paper

(Image credit: TBC)

Colourful bubble painting

'No Title' 2010, by Mariana López
Gallery Dabbah Torrejon

Oil on canvas

(Image credit: TBC)

Brown painting with block colours

'No Title' Circa 1950, by Manuel Espinosa

Oil on canvas

(Image credit: TBC)

Dotted art on paper

'Poema Cantilena' 2011, by Johanna Calle

Incisions on paper

(Image credit: TBC)

Writing on lined paper

'Cuaderno' 2011, by Johanna Calle
Galeria Casas Riegner

Pencil and ink on paper

(Image credit: TBC)

Multi-coloured artwork

'Irisation Mobile' 2009, by Iván Contreras Brunet
Galeria Isabel Aninat

Metal screen on wood

(Image credit: TBC)

Pink block colour artwork

'Shadow Box' 2006/9, by Inés Bancalari
Alejandra Von Hartz

Oil on canvas

(Image credit: TBC)

Neon light art

'Fuegos de Luces' 2010, by Esteban Alvarez
Nora Fisch

Neon tubes on wood

(Image credit: TBC)

Autumn colour palette

'The Long Tail, 64 drinks' 2007, by Emilio Chapela
Faría + Fábregas Galería

C-prints on aluminium

(Image credit: TBC)

Painting of couple on their wedding day

'Wedding Cake' 1977, by Antonio Berni
Galeria Sur

Acrylic on canvas

(Image credit: TBC)

Pastel line artwork

'W-54' 2005, by Abraham Palatnik
Murio Castro

Acrylic on wood

(Image credit: TBC)

Scott Mitchem is one of the longest-tenured Wallpaper* contributors, joining the team in 1999 after attending Purdue University and moving to New York City from his hometown of Chicago. He started as an editorial associate, later served as Brazil Editor-at-Large while living in São Paulo, and is currently a contributing editor based in Miami. Scott covers design, architecture, travel, and all things Brazil while working as an executive in design and real estate development and working towards a Master’s Degree at Georgetown University. He has written for many other publications and was one of several authors who recently contributed to The Architecture of Studio MK27, a book by Rizzoli chronicling the history of the acclaimed Brazilian architecture studio founded by Marcio Kogan.